Patient education programs - can they improve outcomes in COPD?
Smith, Brian J
Veale, Antony J
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It is important to assess the effectiveness of patient education programs for people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) to ensure that limited health resources are being spent effectively. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of programs reported to date, and to look for ways of designing more effective programs. COPD patient education to date has produced little demonstrated success, but studies, education programs and study reports all show limitations. To demonstrate links between outcomes and patient education program components, there is a need for more trials which combine process and outcome evaluation. Programs to date have relied too heavily on the provision of medical information to patients. Programs which also aim to improve disease management self-efficacy hold promise but further determinants of health behavior should be included also, as part of more systematic program design. Program components need to be clearly described and the rationale for their use justified in trial reports. This will produce an evidence base that should show what role education programs can play in improving outcomes, and inform the development of more effective programs.